"The News" 20th January 1940
After opening new permanent Birmingham Municipal Bank premises at Shirley on Thursday, Councillor
H W Miller (Chairman of the Solihull Council) opened an account and expressed the wish that it should be the nucleus of a fund to
be used for some post war purpose for the benefit of Shirley.
Later he told the 'News' that his idea was that the happy days
of peace for which we all hoped should not be forgotten and that perhaps a local committee should be formed to organise the augmentation
of the fund. The purpose for which the money was used would be decided by the people of Shirley.
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham
was unable to be present at the ceremony, but Alderman Harrison Barrow, chairman of the Municipal Bank Committee, deputised for him,
and presented the key of the bank to Councillor Miller. After unlocking the door, Councillor Miller led the official party inside,
and there unveiled a tablet commemorating the event.
After unveiling the tablet, Mr Miller said that it was inscribed to commemorate
that occasion, and perhaps he might be excused for admitting a tinge of pride in his association with an institution of such a character
and having his name linked with those of the illustrious men who had helped to establish a banking system for the people which was
unique in the annals of municipal enterprise.
A majority of the members of the Solihull Council were present in support of their
chairman, Mr C H Cook (Clerk) and Mr Budd, treasurer, also attended.
Later at a luncheon held at the Connaught Rooms, Saracens
Head, Councillor Wilfrid Martineau referred to the contribution which the Birmingham Municipal Bank was making towards the National
He said, "We are all anxious to do our best to 'lend to defend the right to be free.' There is always a danger when
some new method of lending is being very much advertised that the old and well-tried methods will be overlooked. I want to make it
plain that there has been given an undertaking to the Treasury by Birmingham Municipal Bank that during 1940 the whole of the surplus
deposits of the Municipal Bank will be placed at the disposal of the Government.
"Therefore any money put into the Birmingham
Municipal Bank will be just as helpful to the Government as money put into National Savings Certificates or Defence Bonds. Any money
that is taken out of Birmingham Municipal Bank for the sake of being put into National Savings or Defence Bonds, or any other method
of war lending, will not do the country any further good, because it will be merely a case of taking it out of one pocket and putting
it into another."
Councillor Martineau, referred to the good relations which exist between Birmingham and Solihull. About 18
months ago a permanent Municipal Bank building was also opened by Councillor Miller at Solihull and was going along '"very nicely."
It was hoped that the new Shirley premises would make similar satisfactory progress.
Responding, Mr Miller, after expressing
regret at the unavoidable absence, through indisposition, of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, said: "We represent one of the largest
Urban Districts outside the London area, and our population has increased by 25,000 during the short space of five years. We do not
fear aggression, and some of us look to the day when our status may be raised to that of a Borough.
"Much of this progress is
due to our close proximity to your great industrial city - you may say all - even to the rent strike.
"We are a dormitory area,
and we offer relaxation to jaded city workers within this leafy corner of a county well known for its rural charms.
your administration," he said, "we enjoy many services that have already greatly assisted our development, but of all those services
connected with the ramifications of your city, there can be none more fascinating, or to be held in greater esteem, that the establishment
of the Birmingham Municipal Bank.
"Founded as it was in 1916 during the stress of war, by close co-operation with the Trade Union
movement, the birth of this idea is acknowledged to belong to no lesser person than the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain, then Lord
Mayor of the city. From a savings bank for the purpose of collecting contributions from the workers towards the successful prosecution
of the war, it eventually became a pillar of security in times of peace.
"Today we have witnessed the opening of a permanent
branch in Shirley, and it is a new building worthy of this institution; and in closing may I pay tribute to the man who has been manager
since its inception in 1916, and is general manager to-day - Mr J P Hilton?
"The Shirley branch of the Municipal Bank was opened
in 1934 in temporary premises, and became a full-time daily branch in July, 1938. The new premises are at 244, Stratford Road, Shirley.
At Shirley there are now 2,404 open accounts, and the amount standing to the credit of depositors there is £163,423."
his appreciation at the gift of a silver salver to commemorate the occasion, Councillor Miller said that the pleasure of performing
the opening ceremony of that new building was a recompense sufficient for itself, but he was more than grateful for the lasting token
to commemorate the occasion.
Later, Councillor Miller referred to the fact that his father was present, and it was of especial
interest that after 50 years' service within the city he had been presented with a silver salver of exactly similar design to that
which had been presented to himself.
Councillor H I Pedley (vice-chairman of the Council) proposed the health of the Lord Mayor,
Aldermen and Councillors of the Birmingham City Council, and Alderman Harrison Barrow (chairman of the Bank Committee) said the friendly
relations which existed between Birmingham and neighbours was exemplified by the fact that the Municipal Bank had opened branches
in Solihull, Smethwick, Sutton Coldfield and Oldbury; and as soon as premises were available, there would be further branches at Halesowen